IN MY KITCHEN, SUMMER 2022

2 months, 11 days since our beloved friend left us…


In My Kitchen posts are hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings. Please visit her site to see whateverybody else is sharing this month. I join four times each year, on the first day of January, April, July and October. If you are a food blogger, considering taking part of this fun event. It is chance to share those little things you bought or received as gifts and that make your life in the kitchen easier. 

In our kitchen…


The most delicious lettuce leaves known to mankind, or so we think… thanks to the work of my beloved husband who years ago built a planter and keeps it going every Spring…


The picture above is a couple of weeks old, the planter looks like a little jungle now…

In our kitchen…


A very simple gadget to slice butter (available here). Normally people would buy it to serve pats of butter to guests, but I use it to slice a stick and use in baking. It comes to room temperature a lot faster and it’s so much easier than slicing with a knife.


In our kitchen…


Another simple gadget, this one works magic to get kernels off corn cobs (available here). Super efficient and again, easier than any other method I’ve used.


In our kitchen…


A silicone mold that is used for fondant, but as you can read about in my cookie blog, it also works for baking cookies.


In our kitchen…


Fermented black beans (douchi), small bombs of flavor used in traditional Chinese cooking. I am learning my ways with it. They will be featured in a great recipe very soon. In a food blog near you!


In our kitchen…


Two little platters found at Marshall’s. When you bake the right cookies, they can be little matches made in heaven…


In our kitchen….


Dried kaffir lime leaves… I investigated quite extensively before getting this product. Normally nothing beats fresh leaves, but they are hard to find where we live. These got excellent reviews by consumers, so I caved. And they are indeed great. Stay tuned for future adventures…


In our kitchen…


Tomato powder, a new product from Spice House. I saw it advertised by the company and could not resist it. So far I’ve used it to add flavor to rice, and it works wonders for that. I just add 1/2 tsp to the amount of rice I normally cook (1 cup of Basmati).

In our kitchen…

Another great product I got recently, this one after my friend Karen blogged about it. Stay tuned for my “experiments” with it…

In our kitchen…


A small plastic knife that does wonders to cut cakes with a lot of moisture such as a brownie. Available here. Used to cut a batch of banana bread brownies, works like a dream!

So that wraps up what I had to share as far as new gadgets and goodies for you… Moving on, it’s time to let the pups bark a little bit… Starting with very important news…


It is Buck’s Birthday today, my little Bucky Boy… Last year, when he turned 14, my heart was already getting a bit heavy, wondering how long would we have together. One year later, he is still around, dealing with his almost total deafness as best as he can. His hearing is gone as far as voice commands go, but he hears clapping and that’s how we communicate.

For his Birthday he’s got a toy…

He’s got a ball…

But, truth is, his favorite “gift” is the one he stole from the trash can (sigh)…

And that seems to be totally fine with this brother…



The rivalry is real, but not too serious. Buck and Bogey were great buddies, and we worried about Buck without him. He seems fine, adjusted well, and now explores the backyard with Oscar, following his lead, for the most part.

This time of the year, we are back having our evening tea outside, watching the sunset, admiring the fireflies, listening to the birds, the owls, the distant coyotes. Like before. But the difference is the huge absence of our Black Spotted Capeless Hero… The emptiness he left is impossible to put into words.

Saudade

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2021

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2020

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2019

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2018

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2017

SIX YEARS AGO: Secret Recipe Club: Falafel and a Bonus Recipe

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

EIGHT YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

NINE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

TEN YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

TWELVE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Chicken Breasts, Coffee, and Serendipity

FOR THE LOVE OF SOURDOUGH


Playing with different scoring styles for sourdough… The only new recipe is Pecan Flour Sourdough (top left). I had a bag of pecan flour hanging around, and did a little sourdough experiment with it. Pecan flour brings flavor and some fat to the party, but no gluten, so it’s not a good idea to add too much to your basic bread formula. We loved the texture of the crumb, the delicate flavor, and the slight purple tone it contributed. The bread lasts longer at room temperature without drying. And of course, it freezes beautifully, like any sourdough does.


PECAN FLOUR SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

480g bread flour
20g spelt flour
20g pecan flour
10g salt
370g water
80g sourdough starter at 100% hydration

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, place the water in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer and dissolve the starter in it, mixing with a spatula briefly, then add the three types of flour, and the salt. Turn the mixer on with the hook attachment and knead the dough for 4 minutes at low-speed all the time. If the dough is too sticky, add 1/4 cup flour, you want the dough to start clearing the sides of the bowl, but still be sticky at the bottom.

Remove from the machine, and transfer to a container lightly coated with oil, cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow it to ferment for 4 hours, folding every 45 minutes or so. After four hours bulk fermentation, shape the dough as a ball, and place, seam side up, in a lightly floured banetton. Leave at room temperature one hour, and then place in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F. Invert the dough over parchment paper, sprinkle tapioca flour over it for a very light coverage. Next, use a brand new razor blade to score the design.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam. Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: The picture did not really show the color too well. In real life, there was a very very light hint of purple. The bread is delicious, with a complex flavor, not clearly associated with pecans. I wanted to keep just the flour in this version, but adding pieces of toasted pecan to the formula will be happening in the future.


ONE YEAR AGO: Re-Visiting Hamburger Buns

TWO YEARS AGO: Nutella Time, one cookie, three decorations

THREE YEARS AGO: Marshmallow Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Sprinkled Meringues

FIVE YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Three

SIX YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard Simple White Loaf

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Maureen’s Fabulously Fudgy Brownies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Wheat Berry Caraway Bread

NINE YEARS AGO: Mexican Focaccia 

TEN YEARS AGOSunny Kamut Salad with Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Pane de Casa & Crostini

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Down-home Dig-in Chili

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO:  Cinnamon Rolls

TWO DELICIOUSLY REFRESHING CUCUMBER SALADS

Cucumber might be one of the most under-appreciated veggies, at least in our kitchen. I love raita, but rarely make it. At the grocery store, I grab every single veggie before inviting a cucumber into my shopping bag. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a cucumber obsession, so today I share two recipes that will be part of our regular rotation from now on.

CUCUMBER & CRISPY CHICKPEAS WITH AVOCADO DRESSING


CUCUMBER AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

for crispy chickpeas:
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
spray of olive oil if using air-fryer, 1 tablespoon olive oil if baking

for salad:
2 large cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced thin
1 avocado, mashed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
squirt of lemon juice
1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
1/4 cup freshly chopped mint
1/4 cup freshly chopped dill

Make crispy chickpeas. Best way is with air-fryer. Spray with olive oil, season with paprika, salt and pepper, and cook for about 15 minutes in the highest temperature your fryer allows. Reserve.

When ready to make the salad, mash the avocado in a large bowl, squirt some lemon juice oven, then the olive oil, balsamic and the herbs. Season with salt. Mash it all well together. Add the slices of cucumber, toss with the creamy avocado dressing. Add the crispy chickpeas and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


This salad took Phil and I into a state of awe. I have a great friend who always says that food bloggers tend to use too many superlatives to describe their food, and I agree that can be annoying. But please allow me to say, this is an outstanding little salad, in which every ingredient works perfectly. Creamy, refreshing, hearty, we had zero leftovers. A moment of silence for my lunch next day, in which this salad was just a memory.

Moving on to version #2…

CUCUMBER & SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING


CUCUMBER AND SHAVED CARROT SALAD WITH YOGURT-DILL DRESSING
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 cucumbers, peeled in strips, seeds removed, sliced very thin
1 tablespoon salt
1 large carrot, shaved in a box grater
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
fresh dill to taste, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Place the slices of cucumber in a colander, add the salt and let it sit for 30 minutes. Lighty rinse the slices, and dry them on a paper towel.

Make the dressing by mixing yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, dill and spices. Whisk well. Add the dressing to the slices of cucumber, incorporate the grated carrot. Leave the salad in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I took two different approaches to the cucumber. In the first recipe I used them straight after slicing, whereas I salted them in the second version. As expected, in the salted version the cucumber had a slightly more tender texture. We loved them both ways, so if you are in a hurry, skip the salting in version #2, as it won’t compromise the outcome.

Both salads ended up as the star in our dinner, I highly recommend you consider increasing your consumption of cucumber, if you are also part of the team that keeps forgetting all about them…


ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Shrimp with Parsley Oil over Black Rice Noodles

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Shawarma, the Easiest Way

THREE YEARS AGO: Marshmallow Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mango-Lime Macarons

FIVE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Sriracha Meatballs

SIX YEARS AGO: Slow-cooker Braised Lamb Shanks

SEVEN YEARS AGO: How about some coffee with your steak?

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with a Spiral Kick

NINE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

TEN YEARS AGO: Granola Bars

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

TWELVE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

PRIDE MACARONS

With Pride Month in mind, I made a batch of colorful macarons, filled with raspberry jam and lemon-flavored buttercream. The universe conspired so that in that exact week I had a maintenance appointment with my orthodontist. And to my surprise, they were “wigging it”: every staff member, orthodontists included, went to work wearing a colorful wig. They asked the patients to do the same, if they were so inclined… I was more than happy to comply (see the end of this post).

For the macaron shells, follow this recipe (I added 1/4 tsp egg white powder to the granulated sugar, whisked very well, before incorporating into the meringue, because humidity was at 58% the day I made the macarons)

LEMON-BUTTERCREAM MULTICOLOR FILLING

120g butter, softened
320g powdered sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
heavy cream to adjust consistency

Whisk the butter for 30 seconds or so, then add all other ingredients except the heavy cream. Whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved, then adjust the consistency with heavy cream. Divide the buttercream in 5 or more little bowls, add gel color to each bowl. Place lines of buttercream in different colors over plastic wrap, then roll them together as a little sausage. Cut one end, and place the roll inside a piping bag with a star tip. To assemble the macarons, add a circle of buttercream and a small dollop of seedless raspberry jam in the center.

ENJOY!

to print the buttercream recipe, click here

Comments: These were a lot of fun to make. After the shells were assembled, I used different luster powder colors diluted with vodka to pain a stripe for a simple, but effective decoration. They were delivered to the staff at Hayden and Kholmeier office with proper wig, as required…

ONE YEAR AGO: Blood Orange Macarons

TWO YEARS AGO: One-Two-Three Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Marshmallow Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fujisan Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Air-Fried Tomatoes with Hazelnut Pesto & Halloumi Cheese

SIX YEARS AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

NINE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

TEN YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

TWELVE YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS 13!

And this virtual spot is now officially a teenager! Thirteen years. One thousand, five hundred and forty-six posts published. Over twenty-nine thousand comments. But how do we measure all the joy I get from keeping this site alive? Impossible. For thirteen years I’ve been doing it with the exact same enthusiasm of the first week. I don’t think I could keep at it, if I was not fully in love with the whole process. To celebrate, I share a little entremet with mirror glaze, the kind of bake I adore, but with the limitations of the pandemics I’ve been unable to do. Since it was just the two of us, I went with individual portions, very small cakes with a combination of cherry, pistachio, and mascarpone. Plus the mandatory bling!

CHERRY AND PISTACHIO MINI-ENTREMET CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cherry-pistachio centers:
20 g egg yolk
8 g caster sugar
3 g cornstarch
20 g milk
60 g whipping cream
10 g pistachio paste
4 Amarena cherries in syrup

Heat the oven to 200F (yes, very low temperature). In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the sugar and cornstarch. Put the milk, cream and pistachio paste in a saucepan and heat while whisking. As soon as it boils, pour it over the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Put one cherry in each of 4 holes of a small half-sphere mould (about 1 inch in diameter). Pour over the pistachio mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the center is almost fully set. Cool to room temperature, then freeze for several hours to overnight, to be able to un-mold them.

for the sponge:
70 g icing sugar
70 g almond meal
100 g egg
10 g all-purpose flour
10 g pistachio paste
70g egg white
10g granulated sugar
melted white chocolate for brushing cake circles

Heat the oven to 375F. Using a KitchenAid mixer, whip together the icing sugar, almond meal and the eggs. The mixture should double in volume, so whip it for at least 8 minutes. Reserve.

Make a meringue, gently beating the egg white until soft peaks form. Increase the speed of the mixer and add the sugar, a little bit at a time. Beat until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the meringue into the whipped egg mixture, followed by the flour. When the mixture is smooth, gently fold in the remaining meringue. Spread the mixture on a half-sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and smooth the surface with an off-set spatula. Bake for about 10 minutes, until dry to the touch. Dust a sheet of baking paper with a little powdered sugar and invert the baked sponge over it. Peel off the parchment paper that it baked on. Using two cookie cutters, cut out 4 discs that will fit inside the mold that will hold the dessert, and 4 discs that will fit inside the little mold used for the cherry inserts. Melt the white chocolate and apply a very thin coat over one side of the larger piece of sponge. Reserve.

for the mascarpone mousse:
6 g Platinum gelatin (3 sheets)
80 ml whipping cream
55 g egg yolks
80 g granulated sugar
160 g mascarpone cheese
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
320 g heavy cream

Bloom the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Combine egg yolks with sugar, whisking well and set aside. In a saucepan, heat 80 ml of cream until it boils. Remove from heat, and slowly pour a bit of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture, to temper it gently. Add the rest of the cream and transfer all the mixture to a saucepan.

Over low heat, cook until 180 F stirring constantly. Remove from heat, drain the gelatin, and add to the mixture, stirring until completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down to around 140 F. Add the mascarpone cheese, mix until the cheese is incorporated. Process with a hand mixer, to emulsify. Add the vanilla paste, and let it cool to around 95 F. Meanwhile, whip the 320 ml of cream to soft peaks. Incorporate the  cream gradually to the mascarpone mixture.

ASSEMBLE THE DESSERTS. Place a small amount of mascarpone mousse inside each of 4 cavities of a semi-sphere silicone mold (3 to 3.2 inches in diameter). Drop the cherry insert inside. Place the small circle of sponge on top. Cover the cavity with mousse, leaving a little space on the top, so you can place the larger circle of sponge on top, with the chocolate painted side facing up. Smooth the surface, adding a little more mousse if needed. Freeze overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours.

for mirror glaze:
3 sheets Platinum grade sheet gelatin
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
1 tsp agar-agar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
½ tsp titanium oxide (optional, but advisable)
red and purple gel food coloring
Prism powder to sprinkle in the end (optional,I used Tourmaline Pink)

Put the water, sugar, liquid glucose and agar-agar in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 5 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk and the titanium oxide.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. Add the red food gel dye. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

The ideal temperature to glaze is 92 to 94 F. Un-mold the cakes, immediately pour the mirror glaze over the frozen surface. Sprinkle with Prism powder or golden luster powder. Cake should sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love making entremet cakes. They seem complicated but the nature of these cakes pretty much forces you to do everything in steps, over a period of a couple of days. No rushing is advisable, not even feasible. Just take your time and enjoy the ride. This version calls for a baked center. That part of the recipe came from a great cookbook, Patisserie at Home, from Melanie Dupuis. Once that is made (and it can sit in the freezer until you are ready to proceed with the recipe), it is all very straightforward. A sponge bake, some assembling, freezing everything and then my favorite step, mirror glazing!

I used two different ways to present the mini-cakes. In the first version the cake was placed on a small plate and little chocolate covered candy added around the base. A little gold leaf for a final touch on top.

The second version was a little less time-consuming, I just carefully added golden non-pareils around the edge, in a random pattern, and a little white pearl on top.

I imagine you are curious to see the cake cut… So here it is, the different components of this very tasty dessert…

I must say that of all the entremets I’ve made, this ranks very high in the deliciousness level. The cherry, when cooked to make the center, gets a very nice texture and the taste seems concentrated. Lovely. If you make mirror glazes, I want to point out that I add a touch of agar-agar to my recipe. That makes the layer cut more nicely, without slipping, as it is common with gelatin-only formulas. There is no change in taste.

Without further ado, I invite you to step with me
into the 14th year of my blogging adventure!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns 12!

TWO YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns 11!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns 10, and a Giveaway…

FOUR YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns 9!

FIVE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns eight!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Seven!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

NINE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

TEN YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

TWELVE YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!